Elder Abuse Lawyer in Gainesville104 N. Main Street, Suite 500
Gainesville, FL 32601
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Elder Abuse Attorneys in Gainesville
There are about a dozen nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Gainesville, Florida, area, many of which offer stellar services by caring staff. However, in the past few years, long-term care facilities have been hit particularly hard by Covid and all the residual issues that the pandemic brought about, such as a shortage of qualified, competent employees. It seems that many facilities have simply started hiring warm bodies to take care of vulnerable residents, and some results have been horrifying.
Some residents' family members have reported their loved ones were left unbathed and unshaved, with untreated urinary tract infections, in filthy environments, and noticeable weight loss. Most of us realize the pandemic introduced unprecedented challenges for businesses across the globe. However, if you're running an operation that is in charge of the health and welfare of often helpless individuals, you must rise to the demands of the situation, regardless. Unfortunately, instances of elder abuse have never been restricted to unprecedented times. The issue is a growing concern, and nowhere more so than in Florida, with its rapidly aging population.
If your loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, seeking the advice of our elder abuse attorneys in Gainesville will help you to do right by them. Morgan and Morgan Law Firm have always fought to protect the rights of individuals that may not have a voice of their own. Our clients are frequently up against powerful corporations that put profit over responsibility to the consumer. We know that's not how things should work and that there are laws in place to protect the vulnerable. Between our expertise and knowledge of the law, we make sure our clients get justice, compensation, and peace of mind knowing that the wrongdoers will get their punishment.
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Why Are Older Adults Vulnerable to Abuse?
Frequently, as we age, we're subject to physical and mental decline, which makes us more at risk for abuse. Elders living with any form of dementia are particularly prone to being victims of abuse because they may struggle to express how they are feeling and have issues with memory. One of the symptoms of dementia is withdrawal from communication, which is also a sign of caregiver misconduct, making it very difficult to detect if abuse is actually happening to an individual.
Older adults who are immobile, and thus often isolated from group settings, are also more susceptible to abuse because they aren't seen. Likewise, nursing home residents that don't receive visitors regularly are easy targets because the chances of getting caught are minimal.
Older adults of either gender can be victims of abuse. Still, statistics show that women are abused more often than men. The reasons for this include many factors, such as:
- Women are viewed as easier targets than men
- Women tend to have longer life expectancies
- Elderly women are more prone to disabilities such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease
Seniors are often the target of financial exploitation for the same reasons they are easy targets for other forms of abuse. Age-related issues like physical impairment and declining cognitive thinking skills make them easier to exploit.
What Are the Red Flags That May Indicate Elder Abuse?
When we find care for our elderly family members, often it's because we lack the skills necessary to provide them with the proper medical attention, or we may be overwhelmed with other family responsibilities. Making the decision to put an elderly family member into the care of others is never easy. Still, we expect that they will be treated with dignity, kindness, and professionalism. When we suspect the opposite is taking place, it's understandable to feel anger and to want wrongdoers punished by every means possible.
To ensure your loved one is kept safe, the first step is to understand the signs of elder abuse. Here are some warning signs to look out for if you suspect something isn't right.
Emotional abuse - Emotional or psychological abuse of the elderly is any action that erodes their sense of self-worth, dignity, and identity. Some examples include:
- Cruel words that make an older adult feel unworthy
- Ignoring or removing an older adult's ability to make their own decisions
- Threatening to withhold essential needs like food, water, and medicine
- Verbal intimidation
- Ignoring and isolating an older adult
- Not allowing an older adult to socialize with other residents
Signs of emotional abuse in a long-term care facility
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of eye contact with abusers
- Reluctance to speak around abusers
- Sleeping problems
Physical abuse - Physical abuse occurs when a caregiver commits an act that results in a physical injury of an older person. Some examples include:
- Use of object to cause bodily harm
- The use of physical or chemical restraints
Signs of physical abuse in a long-term care facility
- Bone fractures and breaks
- Laceration marks
- Open or untreated wounds
- Broken personal items such as eyeglasses
- Broken teeth
- A sudden change in behavior
- Laboratory results that show signs of overdose or underuse of necessary medications
Sexual abuse - Sexual abuse occurs when there is any kind of unwanted or nonconsensual touching or sexual interaction with another individual. Predators may target victims that are unable to communicate. Even other residents may prey on vulnerable individuals, and the capacity to consent may be called into question if the victim is living with cognitive issues. Here are some examples:
- Sexual contact with an older adult who is confused or unable to give consent
- Forced nudity
- Any non-consensual touching or penetration
- Forcing an older adult to witness sexual acts or look at pornography
Signs of sexual abuse in a long-term care facility
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or infections
- Bruising, bleeding, or irritation in the genital, anal, and breast areas
- Painful urination and bowel movements
- Stained or torn undergarments
- Anxiety or fear of using the restroom
- Nightmares and other sleep issues
- Changes in eating habits
- Fear of specific places and people
Neglect - Residents of a nursing home or assisted living facility can face many forms of neglect, whether purposefully or on accident. Either way, it's a crime under Florida laws. Deprivation of essential needs generally encompasses neglect. Here are some examples:
- Failure to provide food and water
- Failure to help with personal hygiene
- Leaving residents with mobility issues isolated or in bed for extended periods of time
- Failure to provide a clean environment
- Failure to alert medical staff of resident's health issues
- Failure to administer prescribed medications
Signs of neglect in long-term care facilities
- Weight loss
- Dirty clothing and bed linen
- Unwashed hair and body odor
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Unsafe living conditions
- Untreated health conditions
- Inadequate clothing
- Mood changes
Financial exploitation - Financial abuse of the elderly is a genuine problem and occurs whenever a caregiver steals, defrauds, or manipulates an older adult into giving them access to money, valuables, or assets. Here are some examples:
- Theft of money and valuables
- Misuse of funds
- Use of ATM cards
- Pressuring a resident for gifts or money
Signs of financial exploitation in long-term care facilities
- Changes in the power of attorney, will, or trusts
- Missing money or valuables
- Unusual activity in bank accounts
- Purchases that the resident can't or wouldn't use, such as a gym membership
- Fear of speaking in front of certain caregivers
- Fear of spending money
What Are the Consequences of Abuse for the Elderly?
Older adults who are victims of abuse have higher rates of depression, anxiety, and poor health than those that do not experience the same mistreatment. The effects of abuse can be very serious, and older people take much longer to recover. Abuse can even lead to premature death. Elderly individuals that have been abused often develop other complications that require medical and psychological intervention.
What Should I Do if I Suspect Elder Abuse in Gainesville?
The victimization of older adults should be reported immediately if the individual is in life-threatening danger. If the threat isn't imminent, yet you suspect abuse is taking place, you should tell someone as soon as possible. You can relay your suspicions to Florida's Adult Protective Services at 1-800-962-2873, the Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at 1-888-831-0404, or the local police. Once reported to the proper authorities, you should reach out to our elder abuse attorneys in Gainesville to see how we can help to recover compensation. We can provide assistance so that your loved one can get the proper medical attention they need and the funds you need to move them to a better facility.
Morgan and Morgan Elder Abuse Attorneys in Gainesville
If your loved one has been affected by elder abuse, it's essential to talk to an elder abuse attorney. The consequences of elder abuse are substantial, both for the victim and their family. We understand that abuse can still occur even when the family performs the most in-depth research and finds the top-rated nursing home for their loved one.
If abuse happens, the staff member or management needs to be held accountable. Morgan and Morgan is here to help make that happen. When you're ready to act, we can work with you to conduct an investigation, gather evidence, and make a claim for compensation. It's crucial to start this process quickly so that we can get your loved one the medical care they need to recover and find them another facility with competent and compassionate caregivers. Our lawyers handle intentional abuse cases and provide representation in matters of nursing home neglect.
You and your loved one deserve to be compensated for the failings of a nursing home and its staff.
Contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.